Amy Tenderich was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2003. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Mine and co-authored the book Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. You will frequently find her speaking at diabetes, health, and social media events across the country.

If you've just been diagnosed with diabetes, the fact is, you are different now; your body no longer automatically regulates blood sugar like other people’s bodies do. You are going to have to work harder than they do to keep yourself healthy.  But this does not have to ruin your life. You are going to be ok.

What exactly is happening to your body? Fear of the unknown can be the most frightening thing. So learn about your diabetes because better understanding will help you avoid the “freak out factor”.

Understanding the disease

You probably know that diabetes is a disease that affects your blood sugar, or blood glucose, and can cause damage to various parts of the body over time. If not well-treated, diabetes can cause blindness, kidney disease, heart disease, and other conditions known as “complications.”

Glucose is the common fuel used by all of your body's cells. Insulin is the hormone that controls the amount of glucose in your blood, and the amount that enters your cells to serve as fuel. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body does not make enough insulin. Type 2 is when you become resistant to the effects of insulin.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s own immune system attacks the cells that create insulin, and kills them off. Therefore, you need to take insulin regularly in order to survive.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, or – more likely – you have enough, but your body is unable to process it properly. This is called “insulin resistance.”

Whichever type of diabetes you have, you now must operate on “manual” blood sugar control;  whereas a healthy body automatically maintains nice, steady blood sugar levels, we PWDs (‘people with diabetes’) have to work hard at keeping ours in range.

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